Beam support question

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  #1  
Old 01-11-14, 12:28 PM
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Beam support question

Hello, I have a 1959 mid-century house in Seattle and have a question for anyone interested about supporting a beam in the basement. There are a couple of substantial beams (about 4 1/2" x 12") supporting parts of the first floor. These beams are supported by stud walls on footings, but since the studs are 2x4s and the footings are made (apparently) for 2x4s, the walls aren't wide enough to span the entire thickness of the beams. So the stud wall is a little offset from the center of the beam and there's like 1 1/2" of beam hanging over the edge of the stud wall. My question is, would it make sense to add 2x4s on the flat to support the overhang, even if they wouldn't be resting on footings?

Also, a couple of these beams meet on a similarly sized wood column in the garage. They seem to be connected to this beam with nails only. Since this is seattle and earthquakes aren't unheard of, would it make sense to tie these support members together with metal "L" brackets? The house has weathered a few quakes without it, but...well, seems like a no-brainer, right?

Thanks!
 
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Old 01-11-14, 02:00 PM
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The only way it would make any sense to add additional framing would be if you had a good reason for adding the additional 1 1/2"... such as if you wanted to drywall both sides and have the drywall be flush with the beam. Other that that, it would serve no structural purpose.

Metal L brackets will do absolutely nothing for strength in an earthquake.

A better reinforcement of the connection would be to tie the components together with a length of coiled metal strap that would extend at least 12" onto each surface... or an AC post cap, specifically engineered to attach posts and beams. Earthquake strapping usually needs to be designed into a building when it is built. Completely retrofitting a house is usually impossible or at least impractical. Since adding strapping to the beams and columns is easy, it could be done. But if none of the other components have been strapped or anchored (wall to wall strapping across floor joists.... anchors to hold all the floor joists to the beams... blocking above the beams to prevent floor joists from rolling on their sides, hold downs on your sill plates) anything you do in the way of an improvement might be pointless. But it may limit the damage if the earthquake is minor.

For more information on seismic retrofitting for your specific, see http://www.seattle.gov/emergency/lib...assessment.pdf

Also, see A Step-by-Step Guide to Retrofit Your Home for Earthquakes
 
  #3  
Old 01-12-14, 01:28 AM
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Location: Wet side of Washington state.
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The house I grew up in was in the Fremont area of Seattle and built around 1905. As such it had seen many earthquakes over the years and it had not moved one iota since built. The basement had beams similar to your description and the area under the kitchen (an addition added in the early 1930s) had the roughly twenty foot span supported by TWO beams that overlapped in the middle. There were no real footings under the three supports, just a foot cube of concrete under the middle and resting on the footing at the outboard end and a brick offset at the chimney at the inboard end.

Now if you are worried about "the big one" I suggest that you move. No one will escape the big one unscathed.
 
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